So finally a triple engine is back together – but not without a fight!
Preparations began last weekend and resulted in some frustration as two studs that had sheared on dis-assembly refused to budge despite the application of heat and releasing fluid. The cases got sent to an engineering firm whom I’m pleased to report snapped the studs – but unlike me have the gear to sort it out and so they returned good to go, new studs courtesy of Slaters.
I say preparation began last week but clearly I wasn’t up to scratch because Tony Winterton arrived ready to help with the build and immediately declared everything ‘unclean’. I hadn’t removed the slinger plates and once these came off it revealed a nasty kind of paste in the sump – oops! So cleaning began as did the inspection of the gearbox which revealed a missing needle roller in the 5th gear sleeve. Inspection also revealed wear in the shaft and on one of the bearings so a trawl through my box of spares came up with a more robust combination.
All ready to go the crank went in (still in a box from Keith Nairn) and everything was tightened down. A tip from Scott Potter to lay the engine at 180 degrees helped to install the pistons as it is easier to push the barrels on than fight gravity with the engine in its normal position. Head on and now the challenge was to hook up the cam chain…
Hide and seek
We didn’t know at the time but we were trying to put a IWIS link into a Regina chain and the IWIS simply wasn’t wide enough. Anyways after some fiddling and at close to midnight the spring clip disappeared down the engine!!! We spent 90 minutes with magnets and trying to shake the clip but with no success so retired a bit down at 1 am resolved to rise early on Sunday to recover the situation…
Die you bastard!
Sunday and 6:30 am it was back on the job and we quickly concluded we’d have to start again…cases apart and there was the clip looking a bit smug! Assembly the second time round was a lot quicker and by 10:30 we had an engine albeit with no valve clearances but then that’s for another day…
Not quite the Sunday roast Mrs A was expecting!
So the RGS engine is kind of built – needs detail work but the main lump is done. RGA now needs proper cleaning but having just gone through this I feel confident it’ll also but built by Christmas…
PS Yes we did use the kitchen while Mrs A was away visiting family…
Triple clean up
Well for the first time in ages the blog starts with some commentary on the triples! The big triple engine build off is due to happen in a couple of weeks so I have spent the weekend looking over the RGS and RGA engines to make sure everything is ready.
The RGS engine needs a couple of engine studs but more immediately it needed a damn good clean. It’s been sat covered in the same oil and road salt mix that it carried when it was lifted out of the frame over a year ago. The head and barrels have been cleaned up so now it was time to get cracking on the crankcases. I’m quite pleased with the results of a few hours with old toothbrushes and a can of paraffin. You can still see road salt damage on the front of the motor so I will have another go next weekend but it’s looking okay.
Sprag plunger and ?
I found two objects in the bottom of the gearbox – the smaller item is a plunger out of the starter sprag but I’m not sure where the other ‘pin’ has come from. It looks like a needle roller but I can’t think where that would come from so I’m thinking it’s a pin. Anyway if you know what it is drop me a line.
The RGA motor is already clean but I took it off to a welder to get the top case fixed – it had a lump knocked out of it 20 years ago so now is the time to get it put right.
Broken pillion mount
At the same time as putting the RGA case in I also put in the Atlas pillion peg mount. And aside from oiling the chain that is all I have to report on the Atlas which is running well…
So back from holiday and back down the garage. Ended up fiddling with the front brake replacement idea that I’ve been threatening for a few months. The disc off the FZR 1000 went on fine. I hadn’t realised that the mounting plate had been shaped to fit the calipher so neatly. It does though need some fine tuning to work. The problem is that the calipher hits the spokes so the disc needs spacing out.
This shot shows the spacing required to prevent the calipher hitting the spokes – works out at 3 washers. I’m going to pack out all six bolts with washers and then arrange to get a spacing plate made up.
The disc that came off Atlas #2 is worn by quite a bit. I think these discs are cheap and probably have a service life of around 30,000 miles – maybe that’s good?
Staying with the Atlas I have now finalised the design of the replacement final drive sprocket. I am having the sprocket made with the spacing ‘boss’ as an integral component. The engineering firm suggested this because as the sprocket is bespoke having a separate carrier wasn’t going to get round the requirement of having a new sprocket made every time and the additional cost is negligible. I hope to have this in time for the Scottish Rally in September.
Linked to the bespoke sprocket is another idea which is to see how using a non o ring chain goes – especially for solo riding which makes up the bulk of my mileage. I’ve compared the weight of a non o ring to an o ring chain and it is noticeably lighter – that’s got to make a difference to the stress on the gearbox and those splines? The only downside is that the chain will wear quicker – but non o ring chains are about 60% of the o ring equivalent so if it gives the engine an easier time it’ll be the way to go.
All this thought is directed at trying to ensure the Atlas completes the final leg of the Three Nations Challenge in Scotland. Last year the demise of Atlas #1 resulted in a DNS when we came to a halt in Glasgow. A quick look over the bike suggests chain/sprockets. front disc and pads, front tyre and possibly wheels bearings fore and aft. I also have to fit a metal rack and get the pannier frames in place – oh and see if I can get a tankbag and the seat recovered…so not much.
Finally a small amount of progress on the triples. I’ve been procrastinating over some new engine nuts – or rather getting the older dome nuts replated. Just got a good set of second hand items so I’m fast running out of excuses.
Good to be back
Well I think the ‘road-hardening’ process is complete! Just completed 3,000 miles and all the nuts and bolts appear to have settled down, the electrical gremlins been ironed out and it’s running good. Second oil change over the weekend and this time I’ve used straight 30 instead of 20/50. I’m not one to fuss over using special oils and had I had a tin of Morris’s 20/50 that would’ve gone in as normal but stocks were too low so straight 30 it is. I’m going to monitor the oil consumption because the Atlas does need regular top up’s and I wonder if having an oil that won’t go thinner than 30 might help out. The other benefit might be less strain on start up because the weight of the oil is thinner than 50. Let’s see.
Attention now has to move towards a triple if I am to meet my objectives. I had to order some bearings for someone else’s project so loaded up the order with all the stuff for three triples. It will all be with me next week so I can press on with getting a motor built.
I’ve also put out feelers for some replacement cylinder liners. The one in the picture is from an ’81 Jota but I am looking for RGS replacements which are something like 15mm shorter. I’d put the shorter liners (shortened by Laverda for better lubrication) in all triples including the Jota. I’m going this route as standard used pistons are easy to source so new liners might work out more cost effective. If a dealer doesn’t have stock then http://www.laystall.co.uk/ should be able to help – but don’t know costs yet.
I’ve also signed up for the ACU National Rally (http://www.nationalroadrally.co.uk/2015/index.php) – got my lowest number yet at #46, hey that’s Rossi’s number isn’t it!
Prodigal son returned
The Atlas is back!
Delivered via courier van from Glasgow the Atlas has returned. Unfortunately the key wasn’t in the bike so it can’t started but this hasn’t stopped me having a poke about to see if there is something in the motor I’ve missed and can fix without a complete engine swop.
Took off the alternator case and can see that the Zane sprag has some side to side play which I can shim out. It might have made the noise but then it was like this from the outset so unlikely – but worth putting right for when it does run again. I checked over the balancer shaft and this is fine, no play or loose cogs. Next weekend I will strip out the primary side but this was taken apart in Glasgow and nothing found. I really need to get the thing to go again…
So Plan A – it isn’t really broken has yet to be fully explored.
Plan B – refurbish the original engine is progressing. Word came back from the engineering firm working on the head and barrels that fresh piston rings have arrived and the bores are okay following a light hone. The head has a new inlet valve seat and refaced valves. I had to supply some fresh valve stem seals (on both inlet and exhaust for the eight valve engine) which at £6.95 + VAT and postage will add an additional bill of around £100! Interestingly the seals Slater Laverda is sending are from a Honda and need a tad of Loctite 407 to fit (OCT in Germany supply the seals [presumably not Honda] for just €4,52 each).
To add the finishing touches I need a tube of Loctite 518 to seal the crankcases, three oil seals, piston ring clamps and a fresh set of allen bolts for the cam cover and outer cases – luckily the Kempton Autojumble is this coming weekend. I’ve also repainted the crankcases with cylinder black (handpaint so not a great finish but cheap and it’ll keep the road salt at bay).
Awful hand paint job…
Plan C – register my imported Mk 3 is stalled while I wait for someone to come back from the Continent so I can claim it is a recent import and avoid a £5 per day import ‘fine’…
Crank in a box
All the action hasn’t been solely Atlas related as the deal with the Atlas was to also send down a rebuilt crank. The above is as delivered by Keith Nairn. I had a nasty shock at the state of the crank which had been sat under the bench and looked and felt okay to me. Keith reported that he had to replace three cheeks. The centre section 4 with cam drive had spun it’s main bearing rendering the mainshaft no good, centre section 5 had damage to the crankpin and the drive side crank end had been eaten away by the connecting rod! Just shows if you don’t know what you’re looking hey – I’d considered putting it in the RGA as was!!!
I also got feedback on the rebuilt Jota crankshaft – as Keith says ‘If a 180 crank is in phase the ground steel bar should pass easily through all three little end eyes, as you can see from the picture…..
all the rods should be vertical…
Just keeping looking forward and never check just how much money you’ve spent!
A lot of cleaning going on this weekend and the final piece of dismantling which was to remove the pistons from the con-rods thus enabling the top case and crank to be parted.
The head, pistons and barrels were taken off to the local engineering firm for inspection and repair. I didn’t take the valves out of the head so I don’t know if there is any problem there. The engineer however commented that ‘something’ had been in contact with the head around the valve buckets and we concluded that this could only be the outer edges of the cam. I need to inspect the cams to see if this is the case – the steel cams would damage the alloy head rather than visa versa but if it is the cams touching then there will be some damage.
The bores look okay, no scoring or lip so fingers crossed that they can honed and a fresh set of rings used. The pistons have some minor scores but look serviceable. Once I know the state of play with the bores I can decide the next steps – obviously a rebore needs new pistons but if there is life in the bores I will compare the cost of a complete piston set against the cost of just rings. The only note of caution from the engineer was that some of the score lines looked to be slightly diagonal which could indicate a slightly bent rod!
My replacement layshaft (I’d forgotten the final drive is off the layshaft not mainshaft) is good to go, I’d forgotten it came complete with gears so it is just a straight replacement.
Look at the retaining washer groove at the end of the shaft to see the wear. Left hand shaft is way too wide!
While the engineer is working away he’s also going to see if he can source replacement car rings for the RGS – much cheaper. Should have his report back by Tuesday and can then get on with sourcing parts and building the motor back up. The busted Atlas may be back within the fortnight so I’m keen to have made progress on the engine before it returns.
Had to skip a week because of family stuff but back on the horse so to speak.
I’d got my RGS and RGA barrels measured for ovality. Laverda recommend no more than 0.05mm out of round – the RGA barrels passed but not so the RGS (not surprising as I’d run these with very low/no oil). The RGA barrels were honed but still have a slight mark at the top of the barrel which I’m told is okay – hmmm?
Wear mark on triple barrel – within tolerance?
It would be easy to just dismiss the advice that it’s okay and get everything new but if it is good enough then if I get another 20,000 miles then it’ll be no bad thing. The engineering firm have also offered to see if they can match the Laverda piston rings with those of a car to save me money & gave me Laystall Engineering as a source of re-manufactured liners.
Along with the honed liners I also took delivery of two sets of second-hand RGS pistons. There’s enough of these around due to owners upgrading to high compression ‘Corsa’ pistons. Fair enough if that’s your bag but I never found a problem with the performance of a standard set of slugs.
as good as new…
So progress on the triple front and some also on the Atlas. The Atlas is still in Glasgow awaiting Keith Nairn to complete the RGS crankshaft rebuild and send this along with bike back to me. In anticipation of the bikes return I had to start work on the Atlas original motor. The mainshaft needs replacing but thinking that this engine has a good bottom end but needs a head with good valves I figured if I sorted the mainshaft I could just pop the head of the Glasgow on when it arrived. I duly set to dismantling the original motor.
Back on the bench
Dismantling the motor wasn’t that complicated. The main hassle was that the pistons don’t go through the block attached to the con-rods so the crank is still attached to the top case. Other than this it all came apart easily enough.
I haven’t taken the head apart to check the valves but wonder if they are damaged after finding very worn oil ring spring in the right hand bore. Was this the cause of excessive oil in the inlet track? I also think that the balance weight on the primary side might be loose despite the nut and lock washer being in place. Rocking the balancer shaft created a knocking noise not unlike that in the Glasgow motor so I will check this before stripping that bike.
Bottom case with gearbox and balancer shaft
Finally to try and get back onto two wheels I have also started to see if I can recommission the VFR. Aside from the electrics which need sorting (bad earths etc) the oil cooler pipes had corroded to the point of leaking. I’d forgotten that while you can’t fault the Japanese engineering you have to remember that to make such great motorcycles as such a low price quality has to be compromised somewhere – welcome to bolts made of chocolate…On sheared bolt later and I proceeded with a liberal dose of penetrating oil and blow torch to loosen things up. Makes you respect the build quality of a Laverda even more…
Well things are moving along. The RGS and RGA frames have been welded as per the factory ‘upgrade’ – brilliant job as the picture shows. The welding doesn’t follow the factory directions precisely because my welder blended the additional plate from the headstock into the existing shuttering. He argued it was unnecessary to undo the original work by cutting some of the original work out.
Welded up RGS frame
Dismantled various other RGA brackets ready to take them off for shot blasting. There isn’t much bracketry on the RGA so not a lot of work. I’m also going to sand the swinging arm down manually as the bearings seem okay and shot blasting would involve a lot of masking up to save them.
Carried on cleaning the crankcases with paraffin and also went over the barrels which I failed to get down to the engine shop for measuring.
Well after the excitement of last week’s rally this week is more mundane but some progress. The frames have been dropped off at the welder following blasting and will have the headstock’s braced. The welder couldn’t find evidence that the RGS frame had cracked so maybe I saw a ring of rust where a cable tie was and over-reacted? Should be done in a couple of weeks and then we can get down to paint which will signal we’ve turned the corner and started to put stuff back on rather than take it off.
The other bit of news was I found the Belgian registration papers for my second Atlas. These confirm it is a 1990 bike rather than ’87 as claimed by the Laverda marque specialist. As I have the papers it should make registration easier.
Finally on the Atlas front I have a second front disc waiting to be cleared through customs (came from the USA so I’m being hit for tax…). Always good to have a spare in the shed.
This week is really all about the National Rally. Full report and some pictures in the Trips section.
Anyways in preparation for the rally I had to get to bottom of the starting problems. First off I dismantled the sprag clutch and surprise, surprise was greeted by broken springs. I put together a new assembly and even installed the fancy Zimmerman sprag but all to no avail because the ring gear spiggot was worn. This feature really is a pile of shite and lucky I could install the Zane alternative from the broken original engine.
Even this repair however couldn’t hide the knackered battery. I ordered a replacement on-line but still needed to get to work. To make this happen I lashed the battery out of the RGS to the side of the bike. Turned out this battery is also below par but at least it worked for a couple of days.
Oversize RGS battery lashed to the side of the Atlas
The on-line battery failed to appear so I did a bit of research and found a Harley Sportster battery will do the job. The cold cranking of a Harley battery has to be high so I was confident if the local dealer had one we’d be good to go. As it turned out the local dealer didn’t have the right battery but did have one that would fit if I flattened out the battery tray. No problem and the good news was this battery is a full blown 20 amp jobbie and the shop tested the CCA at a whopping 353! Bad news it cost £135!
Harley battery – 20 amp, 353 CCA, part # 65958-04A
Job done but as you’ll see from the rally report the sprag still slips…grrrrrrrrrrr!
Aside from the Atlas I dropped both the RGS and RGA frame off for shot blasting so I can get on with having the frames welded ready for paint. Slowly, slowly…